ICC World Cup: Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka in style to keep semi hopes alive

Afghans made quick work of Lanka's 241 and hit the winning run with 28 balls to spare

Afghanistan -cricket-fans-pti Afghanistan players celebrate with their fans in Pune | PTI

A textbook run-chase at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune helped Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets in the ICC ODI World Cup 2023. Afghanistan made quick work of Sri Lanka's 241 and hit the winning run with 28 balls to spare.

Captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (58 off 74) and Azmatullah Omarzai (73 off 63) stitched an unbeaten partnership of 111 runs to hand Afghanistan its third win of the tournament. 

Shahidi and his men had stunned holders England and 1992 champions Pakistan earlier in the competition and they proved those were no flukes with yet another impressive display against Sri Lanka. 

Rahmat Shah (62 off 74) and Ibrahim Zadran (39 off 57) also played valuable knocks as they managed to settle the run chase after losing Rahmanullah Gurbaz, arguably the most explosive batter of the Afghan line for 0 in the first over of the game. They added 73 runs in the second wicket before Zadran departed.

Kasun Rajitha dismissed Rahmat but not before the batter had brought up his second successive fifty of the tournament. Shahidi and Omarzai mixed caution with occasional aggression in their unbroken century stand to take Afghanistan closer to the target. 

With victory in sight, both decided to play their shots and Azmatullah scored the winning run when he attempted to hit a six and was dropped at deep midwicket.

Earlier, the Afghan bowlers had laid the foundation of the victory when they bowled out Sri Lanka for a below-par 241 in 49.3 overs. Put into bat, several Sri Lankan batters got their eyes in but could not quite capitalise on those starts. After the fall of Dimuth Karunaratne in the sixth over, Kusal Mendis (39) forged half-century partnerships with Pathum Nissanka (46) and Sadeera Samrawickrama (36) to steady the innings.

At 134-2 in the 28th over, Sri Lanka looked well placed to reach the 275-mark but the plucky Afghans struck at regular intervals to peg them back.

Angelo Mathews and Maheesh Theekshana raised 45 quick runs for the eighth wicket but Sri Lanka still fell short of the 250-mark.

- With Reuters input

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